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I'm reading a piece of news and found this sentence.

“Well I haven’t said it was her, but she’s outstanding,” Trump said of the Indiana federal judge.

What does this sentence mean? I'm a little confused by said of. Does it mean Trump was talking to the Indiana federal judge and he said that “Well I haven’t said it was her, but she’s outstanding”?

The full context is listed below.

(Sept. 26) President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday that he is nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as he aims to put a historic conservative stamp on the high court just weeks before the election.

Trump said Friday he had made up his mind and it was “very exciting,” without giving away the name, aiming to maintain some suspense around his personal announcement. But the White House indicated to congressional Republicans and outside allies that the pick was Barrett.

“Well I haven’t said it was her, but she’s outstanding,” Trump said of the Indiana federal judge.

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It means they said it about them.

You see this when a quote is attributed to a person, but the quote doesn't specify who or what the quoted person was speaking about. In your example, the quote uses a pronoun "her", so it has to be made clear Trump said it about (or 'of') the federal judge.

“Well I haven’t said it was her, but she’s outstanding,” Trump said of the Indiana federal judge.

If Trump had named the judge, the writer could have quoted him without the need to clarify, for example:

“Well I haven’t said it was Judge Amy Coney Barrett, but she’s outstanding,” Trump said.

One other point worth noting is that writers, especially journalists, strive to use different ways to refer to people and things so that their writing does not sound repetitive. They often achieve this by alternating between a name, a title, a pronoun etc. That is the case in your example text.

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  • Thanks for your answer! Just to confirm, Is Amy Coney Barrett the Indiana federal judge? – Just a learner Sep 26 '20 at 16:15
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    @Justalearner According to the text you quoted, yes. – Astralbee Sep 27 '20 at 8:55
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Said of her means he said something, and it was about her - she was the subject of the statement. It's a way to connect the reported speech with its subject. So yes, you're right!

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  • A man said of my father that he was bald. – Michael Harvey Sep 26 '20 at 14:31

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